…..seeks prosecution of erring drivers in election materials distribution.
By: Ade Adeleke
Less than 48hours to the governorship election in Ondo state, a civil rights organisation, YIAGA Africa has cautioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), against using or over relying on members of the Ondo state Branch of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) for conveying sensitive election materials on election day to different polling units.
The organisation notes with displeasure that the NURTW members could undermine the process on Saturday considering the partisan background of many of the transporters.
Addressing newsmen at a pre- election briefing in Akure, the State capital Co- Chair of YIAGA Africa, Dr Aisha Abdulahi said “although INEC has shown readiness to deploy its officials and materials early to the polling units, Yiaga Africa is concerned with the commission’s reliance on members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to transport election materials and personnel to the polling unit.
“In the build-up to the election, some members of the NURTW were reported to have endorsed some candidates in the election. This puts their integrity and neutrality to question.
Yiaga Africa said it fears that partisan and compromised NURTW members will deliberately cause delays in the commencement of polls in some battleground LGAs by either refusing to deploy or give reasons to delay the process.
“INEC should ensure all vehicles to be used deploying election materials and personnel are deployed to the Registration Area Camps 24hrs before the commencement of polls.
“INEC should collaborate with the security agencies especially the police to arrest and prosecute any NURTW member who violates the contractual agreement between INEC and NURTW or make any attempt to undermine the election.
“To ensure early commencement of polls in those areas, INEC should ensure adequate logistics preparations coupled with heightened security deployment to protect the materials and officials.
“It is important for the Commission to increase its oversight in those areas to ensure consistency in the application of election guidelines.
“This is consistent with the call made by Yiaga Africa in its 2016 Ondo observation findings and 2019 Bayelsa governorship election on the conduct of election in riverine communities.
“INEC should ensure the early payment of the allowance of adhoc officials for the election. All Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs) must be tasked to ensure payments are processed a night before the election.
“INEC should sustain the use of the election results viewing portal and ensure timely post of the Form EC 8 A at the polling units.
Also, INEC should post information on polling unit where elections were cancelled or PUs where elections didn’t hold on the results viewing portal effective, and secure deployment of its staff, materials (sensitive and non-sensitive), and
INEC must show utmost professionalism in election administration and ensure timely, other resources needed for the election to enable early commencement of polls. Yiaga
Yiaga Africa drew the attention of INEC and security agencies to notorious blind spots in riverine communities of Ilaje and Ese-Odo LGA known for election rigging, perennial logistics challenges, and the threats to polling officials and election materials posed by activities of militants in the region.